Contingentism is the view that it is contingent which things exist. Despite its plausibility, advocates of contingentism face a well-known ‘challenge’ to demonstrate that they can draw what appear to be intelligible modal distinctions (Williamson Modal Logic as Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013). In this article, I argue that if certain controversial modal principles fail, the challenge contingentists face becomes much more difficult. Whereas extant challenges concern contingentists’ inability to draw quite theoretical second-order modal distinctions, I present a challenge which concerns contingentists’ inability to draw simpler first-order distinctions. This indicates that in certain modal settings there may well be significant first-order barriers to maintaining contingentism.